approaches designed to change social and environmental influences on smoking behavior. Research suggested that this new emphasis would be beneficial, as studies had shown that interventions directed solely at individuals were not likely to result in large-scale declines in smoking prevalence (NCI 1991).
The tobacco industry recognized the potential of this new approach for reducing tobacco use and sought to defeat local initiatives and limit the scope and impact of the increasing activities of the states. The industry charged that advocacy activities amounted to illegal lobbying by public agencies (Aguinaga-Bialous and Glantz 1999; Gerlach and Larkin 2005). An evaluation of the ASSIST program, based in part on internal industry documents, found that the industry’s strategy was to burden the states with requests for documents under the federal Freedom of Information Act and accuse ASSIST staff and local coalition members with using funds for illegal lobbying, causing confusion over what actions the ASSIST program could legally take (NCI 2005). To stem the movement toward smoke-free spaces, the industry tried, often successfully, to convince state legislatures to enact lax statewide laws while precluding more stringent local ordinances (ANR 2004).
Commercial tobacco interests were also becoming increasingly engaged on another battleground. From the 1950s until the early 1990s, tobacco companies were consistently victorious against tobacco control efforts in the courts. Litigation had thus shown little promise as a tool for tobacco control (Rabin 1993). However, the findings about nicotine addiction, the revelations that companies had concealed and misrepresented health information, and new opportunities to aggregate cases in so-called class actions transformed the litigation landscape in the 1990s (Rabin 2001a).
Attorneys who had previously not been involved in tobacco litigation began suing tobacco companies on behalf of large groups of smokers (Rabin 2001b). The first tobacco class action was Broin v. Philip Morris, filed in 1991 on behalf of flight attendants who claimed that they were injured by secondhand smoke prior to the airline smoking ban. A $349 million settlement was reached before the trial concluded.
The nationwide class action suit Castano v. American Tobacco, filed in 1994, brought together some of the country’s leading plaintiff attorneys. Nicotine addiction was the centerpiece of the case, which drew on emerging evidence that companies tried to conceal and misrepresent the addictive properties of nicotine and that they knowingly addicted their customers. Although a federal appellate court eventually decertified the class in the Castano case, subsequent individual tort suits and class actions suits